The Religious Society of Friends – Quakers – were meticulous record-keepers. Working through existing records we can trace their presence in the Rathangan area from the birth of William Sheldon (son of Elizar Sheldon and Susanna Edmundson) in 1692 to the departure of Sidney G Nicholson for Dublin in 1928. Meetings recorded births, deaths and marriages, as well as the names of those “disowned from the unity of the society”. Records of “Sufferings” detail the value of goods seized from individual Quakers by tithe-mongers because their refusals to pay tithes to the established Church. In addition to written records there is a strong folk-memory of their presence in Rathangan. For example, the Meeting at John Stephenson’s House in Kilnantogue (1711 – 1728) is remembered in a field-name – “The Quakers’ Walk”. Records from the Registry of Deeds detail the amount of land held by individual Quakers from their landlord, the length of the lease and the rent due. These records also detail monies due against the income from leases for dowries, loans etc.
Covid-19 restrictions severely hampered site visits and face-to face meetings. Nevertheless, this research represents a significant step in recovering the story of Rathangan’s Quaker Community, mapping the location of their homes, and detailing the economic activities of the various families who made up Rathangan’s Quaker Community between 1690 and 1928.
Laurence Fullam has a background in Adult & Community Education. An experienced researcher with a particular interest in the concept of legitimacy, he has worked in the area of local development, managing a number of EU funded projects from concept to implementation. He has a keen interest in local history and a particular interest interest in archival sources. He is a founding member of Creative Rathangan Meitheal.